The PopMatters Fall 2007 Movie Preview
In December, fantasy will battle fact, the past will reach into the present, and as one upcoming title suggests, there will be blood... lots and lots of blood. Here is the last of what awaits us in darkened theatres this season.
For those who adore the genre, it’s the seminal moment, the classic confrontation we’ve been looking forward to all throughout the premise and the plotting. The hero steps up, courage screwed to the sticking point, and prepares to finally face off against the villain. It could be on the streets of some desolate prairie town, or along the shores of a raging river. It may happen inside a dark back alley, or on a metropolitan rooftop. No matter the situation or the setting, we love the showdown, the tense metaphysical back and forth that occurs when opposing forces finally face each other in preparation to let it rip.
There’s even a parallel -- albeit passive and rather peculiar -- to the cinematic clash that occurs every Fall. It is here when film actually fights itself for recognition, turning its back on the practices that made the artform flourish as a business, to be daring, demanding, and distinct. Like gunslingers squinting in a spaghetti western showdown, differing ideals take over, rendering a celluloid war between followers of the brilliant, the baffling, and the bunk.
Thus we offer the 2007 PopMatters Fall Preview, this time divided into three different categories, each one containing its own promises and pitfalls. While it might seem rather obvious that “Good” would be the hardest section to decipher, that’s actually not true. Certain pedigrees and past accolades can lead one to believe that a certain set of artists, functioning within a particular collection of narrative elements, will turn out something sensational -- or at the very least highly watchable. Conversely, nominating the nonentities for their position as “Bad” requires a similar sampling of perspectives.
Along with such aesthetic archeology, we can ask other questions. Is it an unnecessary sequel? An attempt to cash in on a certain cinematic category? Filled with performers who shouldn’t be seen onscreen, let alone earning a regular studio paycheck? By using one’s experience, and moderating the pros and cons, the positive and the pathetic, we end up with something just shy of a clear critical consensus. Certainly, in the black and white world of such knotty kneejerk classifications, one’s opinion can go wildly askew. But when buffered by the knowledge that judgment is not fact, any decision has its own merits.
Where the real problem exists is in the standoff between the obvious and the obscure. Labeling something as “Unknown” indicates an awkwardness, a lack of certainty that can be both troubling and tempting. It may seem like the easy way out, the simplest cop to placing a movie on an ever-growing, all encompassing list. But the consternation this causes, the uncomfortable hemming and indecisive hawing that results leaves very little room for clarity. It’s not a matter of being right or wrong, it’s actually a question of insight. Film can fool you. The greatest ideas can come up short, while surefire hits are frequently sidetracked by all manner of moviemaking mistakes.
It’s what makes a season like Fall so surreal -- the dizzying highs of future award winners, the discovery of undeclared masterworks, the disappointment in anticipated epics, the flat out failure of cinema that struggles instead of succeeding. In the film business, Spring is the last gasp for some manner of marketplace recognition, while Summer stands as the craven cash cow. In the next four months, victors will be decided and losers laughed at and dismissed. As such, it stands as a Leone like conflict between The Good, The Bad, and the Unknown.
Written by Bill Gibron / Produced by Sarah Zupko